Welcome to our Anniversary Blog by resident blogger Jake Hope. Jake will be reading and reviewing all of the past CILIP Carnegie Medal winning books during the anniversary year. We are also asking shadowers to "Adopt a Book" and join in reading and discussing the anniversary titles in their shadowing groups.
"And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read, which goes on for ever; in which every chapter is better than the one before."
A period of prosperity and peace for the people of Narnia is brought to an abrupt ending when Shift, an ape, convinces a donkey to dress in a lion’s skin and act the part of Aslan. Using the donkey as his mouthpiece, Shift connives to receive money from the Narnians. King Tirian sees through the deception that is being spread by the Calormenes although is captured by them leading tensions to grow taut throughout the land.
The children of the former books, Lord Digory and Lady Polly, Peter, Edmund, Lucy , Eustace and Jill are eventually brought to Narnia by way of a train crash in their world, although Susan is left behind no longer being ‘a friend of Narnia’.
With Narnia severely tainted, the opening of the book is morose and sinister in tone, a lead up towards the eventual battle that ensues between the Calormenes and Narnians and the interventions of a vengeful God in the form of Aslan. The ending is Apocalyptic, but there is redemption for several of the lead characters nonetheless. Drawing upon Christian texts and specifically the Book of Revelations, The Last Battle, is at points troubling not so much because of its dark undertones, but because the of the heavy didacticism that its allegory sometimes struggles to hide. In its representation of other – both through gender and race – it is not always enlightened and is often quite limiting which may feel dated and uneasy to modern sensibilities.